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Re-Opening Reflections

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

Charlie Hong Kong is a place of passion. The incredible amount of moving parts that require tending in any given day can be overwhelming: sick call with no replacement, one of the 55 cup rice cooker goes on the fritz, ice machine overworked on a scorching hot day. Our restaurant is like a puzzle with constantly shifting pieces. To feed our community; to support our local organic farms; for our love of Mother Earth; these are the fundamentals of our business model. There are those days when our staff perform like skilled circus jugglers. Their incredible commitment makes them our most important asset. Many of our cooks have been with us from the beginning. We’re talking decades of commitment, to feed our community nourishing noodle and rice bowls. Of course, it’s the continued support of our community that keeps our doors open. You’ve stayed with us through these two decades.

With the announcement of the full opening in California, I wanted to share some reflections on 2020. I’ve had the joy and privilege over all the years, to interact with so many of our customers. I’ve witnessed: pregnant mom and their newborns, children grow-up, couples marry, divorces, early morning seniors, retirements, starting school, leaving for college, and international travelers. My gratitude is enormous, for the loyalty of our community, through this past year of many, many challenges. I missed seeing all of you under the blue awning. I bow to each one of you, in gratitude, for staying with us. The enormous challenges: shifting to to-go only, online ordering, no eating at our community tables, closed bathroom, menu changes (no sandwiches, no hot tea, goodbye Laughing Phoenix), seniors on lockdown, misunderstandings through a mask, social distancing, talking to a plastic shield.

The tragedies piled up. COVID deaths. Exhausted dedicated First Responders. The murder of George Floyd, may it be a turning point, and the streets filled. The tragic disconnect of COVID and hate crimes against Asians. Social isolation, loneliness, like collective trauma permeates the air. All this and the fires came roaring through, more devastation, more heartache. Mom’s stretched to their heroic limits, manage work and children’s schooling on a computer, as schools close and screens light up. Through it all, we managed to stay open, keep our employees working and serve our community. We believe that food is nourishment, food is healing. And customers continued to show up; order noodle and rice bowls, salad wraps, soup. All while acts of heroism held our community together. The magic of this geographic place we call home remains. Waves sparkle in sunlight, break on the sand. The Redwoods survive and reach for the sun. The fields green with chard, broccoli, cabbage.

It feels like one of those cultural moments, calling for a new beginning; a time to refresh. We’ve opened the tables under the awning. We’ll begin serving tea again and bringing back bowls for people who eat-in. A change of font, new logo, and a refresh of our tagline is coming. Hopefully to end the confusion, we are not a Chinese restaurant! Of course, our food will remain the same. No messing with the Spicy Dan, salad wraps, rice bowls. Signature Bowls will remain plant based, abundant with locally grown organic greens. Perhaps some new additions to our menu. Because it is my spiritual practice to feed and nourish; because Food is medicine, because you are our community, we welcome all of you home. Come to the table, eat, and enjoy.

Carolyn Rudolph, Owner

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